The Haba family has been an essential part of the Jerusalem shuk for over 50 years, since they moved to Israel from Iraq. What started as a small bread stand has developed into a baking empire and as the life in Machaneh Yehuda has evolved, so has their business.
While they still have numerous bread stands in and around the shuk, the younger members of the family recognized the need for a more upscale bakery and restaurant – and Trattoria Haba was born.
To help make this idea a reality, the family recruited Michael Katz as executive chef for the Haba group. Katz spent four years as the executive chef of the Adom Group (Adom, Colony, Lavan etc) and was previously the chef and owner of Michael Andrew restaurant, and a teacher at the Cordon Bleu school in London.
Located on Jaffa Street between the entrances to the closed and open shuk, Trattoria Haba is a beacon of modern style in traditional surroundings. At the entrance to the trattoria is a delicatessen, with a large array of fresh breads, pastries, salads and desserts available for takeaway. The restaurant itself includes tables on the ground and first floor, as well as tables out front on Jaffa Street and a small courtyard in the back, overlooking the Georgian section of the main shuk.
We started our meal with a selection of appetizers and salads. The croquettes of brie and pecorino cheese were the perfect balance of crispy and creamy, without being too heavy or rich (NIS 39). We enjoyed the curry-flavored couscous salad (NIS 48), which included a combination of roasted butternut squash, green beans, nuts and a variety of fresh cherry tomatoes, but we found the curry flavor to be a little too subtle.
For main course, we tried the market calzone (NIS 46) filled with pecorino, camembert, tomato sauce, black olives and roasted peppers. The portion was very generous and came with a delicious side salad, but our only criticism was that the tomato sauce made the filling slightly runny. Next, we tried the homemade cheese ravioli (NIS 64) and the ricotta cheese gnocchi (NIS 58). Both dishes were fresh and light, and I could not believe the gnocchi were cheese-based and not potato; this was definitely a dish I would go back for. Finally, we had the sea bream fillet (NIS 98) served with roasted vegetables. This is the most expensive dish on the menu, but the portion was very generous and the fish was perfectly cooked.
And so to the desserts. We sampled both the pain au chocolate (NIS 15) and cheese Danish pastry (NIS 15), which were both good, but we found the dough a bit heavy. My favorite dessert was the tiramisu (NIS 28). which was perfectly balanced.
The restaurant has an extensive breakfast menu that is served until noon on weekdays and all day on Friday. The house breakfast (NIS 56) is incredible value and as well as the usual choice of eggs, salad, breads and dips, it also includes home cured salmon, fresh juice and a hot drink. They are always happy to make substitutes and special requests like soy milk are not extra. The breakfast for two (NIS 104) also comes with yoghurt with muesli and additional salads and despite trying on numerous occasions; I have never been able to finish it.
The service is very hit and miss and is especially slow when they are busy on a Friday, but the food is always consistent so it keeps people coming back for more!
119 Jaffa Street, Jerusalem
Sunday-Thursday 8 a.m. to midnight
Friday 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Saturday One hour after Shabbat until midnight